A fine and exceptional falangcai 'Mille-Fleurs' bowl

A fine and exceptional falangcai 'Mille-Fleurs' bowl


Lot 3021. A fine and exceptional falangcai 'Mille-Fleurs' bowl. Blue enamel mark and period of Yongzheng (1723-1735); 10.1 cm., 4 in. Estimate 5,000,000 — 7,000,000 HKD. Lot sold 14,440,000 HKD. Photo: Sotheby's

finely potted with deep rounded sides rising from a narrow straight foot to a gently flared rim, the exterior and foot delicately painted in brilliant enamels of magenta, yellow, green, lavender, and white with a dense bouquet of mixed flowers including large clusters of chrysanthemum and lotus, surrounded by sprigs of hydrangea, pink, magnolia, hibiscus and aster, all blooming against a ground of dense foliage in varied shades of green, the interior and base left white, the latter inscribed in blue enamel with a four-character reign mark within double squares, wood stand.

Provenance: Sotheby's Hong Kong, 25th November 1981, lot 278.

Note: This bowl belongs to a small group of wares decorated with what is known as the 'mille-fleurs' design of chrysanthemums, lotuses, peonies, flowers buds and various other plants. Although the Western terminology of 'mille-fleurs' is widely used, the Chinese name for this type of dense design jiacai (mixed or mingled colours) appropriately describes the multitude of famille-rose shades used. Yongzheng wares using jiacai are extremely rare possibly because of the emperor's preference for more classical Chinese designs that tend to be less overpowering and complex, and also because of the very high level of technique involved in making such complex decorations in the famille-rose palette. The present bowl was possibly one of the very few wares that was considered a success in the making. The jiacai technique was perfected by the Qianlong reign as can be seen on one of the most beautiful examples of this type of decoration, the vase in the Musée Guimet, Paris, illustrated in Michel Beurdeley and Guy Raindre, Qing Porcelain. Famille Vert and Famille Rose, London, 1987, pl. 165. 

Only three other Yongzheng falangcai bowls of similar design appear to be recorded, one in the Qing Court collection included in The Complete Collection of Treasures of the Palace Museum. Porcelains with Cloisonne Enamel decoration and Famille Rose Decoration, Hong Kong, 1999, pl. 15; a second bowl, formerly in the Edward T. Chow collection, illustrated in Beurdeley and Raindre, op. cit., pl. 146, and sold in these rooms, 19th May 1981, lot 589; and a third bowl also sold in these rooms 4th April 2012, lot 3191.

Sotheby's. Fine Chinese Ceramics and Works of Art, Hong Kong, 08 Oct 2013